President Abdoulaye Wade recently claimed intellectual property rights of the “African Renaissance” monument under construction in the Senegalese capital city. However, as these unedited, never-published transcripts of a conversation between Dr Evil and his son, Scott Powers, illustrate, the genesis of the project is straight outta Masters of the Universe. The conversation took place in a command centre atop a hill in Dakar, from where Dr. Evil, surrounded by giant flat screen monitors, was overseeing the construction of the monument. Alone, but for the company of his faithful Persian cat, Mr Bigglesworth, Dr Evil was soon joined by the soon-to-be-evil-too, Scott. The following is verbatim, as recorded by N’Gone Fall.
Scott Powers: What are we doing here?
Dr. Evil: I’ve decided to affirm my absolute power to the world. No war, no death, no annihilation, just a monument to my glory. Something gigantic. It’s a longstanding dream. One day, I said to myself, “If I were a sculptor, I’d create a group of three figures raising their arms as one. Two, standing side by side, would represent Europe and the United States; a third, at a slight remove, cast in lines pure and strong, would stand for Africa.” All, of course, would be gesturing toward me, the Master of the Universe. I asked the Senegalese artist Ousmane Sow to draw up some plans, but what he came back with lacked panache. I worked on it some, made a few changes and he had a fit. These Fulanis, such a bunch of prima donnas! Then I got on the horn to Virgil Magherusan, the Romanian artist. The thing with these guys from the old Soviet block is they’re just great at taking direction, and they get the grand-gesture-to-scare-the-shit-out-of-the-people thing; they’ve got that language down pat. What he came back with wasn’t half bad. Instead of figures representing three continents, he suggested a family. You can’t go wrong with family values. I had to fix a few things here and there – I am the best, after all. So the monument won’t be a continental thing – I mean, who cares about continents when you’re the Master of the Universe… It’ll be a family. Our family: me, my beloved Frau Farbissina (a.k.a Lady Killjoy) and you, Scotty. This admirable trinity, symbol of our unassailable power, will bring the whole world to heel!
Scott Powers: You really think you can make the whole world quake in fear with a monument?
Dr. Evil: Ah, but you forget that I am the Grand Master of Domination and Destruction! This monstrously monumental statue will literally stop the planet in its tracks. Why not take this opportunity to shed some dead weight? Use the Africans to make it clear once and for all that I’m the Man. Wanna contradict Dr. Evil? Go ahead. The rancid stink of humiliation will stick to you – make its way into your every nook and cranny – till the end of all time!
Intercept from Fall: At one end of the command centre, a little man with sunflower-yellow skin perched on a platform was barking orders, his eyes glued to the countdown on a giant chronometer. Below, armies of little sunflower-skinned workers goose-stepped down a massive pontoon, while others manipulated cranes loaded down with huge slabs of bronze.
Scott Powers: Was it really necessary to bring in the North Koreans?
Dr. Evil: Duhhhh! The last completely submissive people on the planet! Nobody, but nobody’s got discipline like the North Koreans. And they’re fast. Cheap too. Instead of paying them, I gave them some land. What with globalisation, outsourcing is the way to go. It’s a win-win deal!
Scott Powers: And you really need all that bronze? How tall is this thing you’re building?
Dr. Evil: Fifty-three metres! I wanted to go higher, as you can imagine, but I couldn’t run the risk. It might have made the whole edifice unstable. The winds off the Atlantic are just too unpredictable in these parts.
Scott Powers: So why build it here, at the tip of this peninsula?
Dr. Evil: A strong symbol needs a strong location. For the Master of the Universe, only the Centre of the Universe will do. Greenwich Mean Time was obviously the way to go, latitude-wise. I could have chosen the Equator, but this place here works much better as an emblem. The single western-most spot on the African continent, it faces the new and the old worlds, America and Europe, simultaneously. And everybody’s heard of Dakar: ex-capital of a colonial empire; key stop on the spice route for ships headed to the Cape of Goof Hope; stop-off on the legendary Aéropostale – you know what I’m talking about: the first airplane mail route across the South Atlantic, linking Europe and the Americas by way of Senegal; the automobile rally of reference; the first contemporary art biennale south of the Sahara; the prettiest asses in the world… Dakar’s got the whole world dreaming!
Scott Powers: You don’t say! The Africans know about your project?
Dr. Evil: Sure. I met with one of their big boys at the last Baldies Anonymous Convention. I said “African Renaissance” and he was all over me. It took about half a minute to convince his colleagues.
Scott Powers: “African Renaissance?” I thought this was supposed to be a double whammy: assert your power and humiliate the Africans while you’re at it.
Dr. Evil: Oh, Scotty, Scotty, when will you start using your brains? It was a whole lot easier to get my monument in there by passing myself off as their friend … avoids a war and all the hand-wringing from those piss-ants over at the Utopian Nations Council. Ha! They really buy that Renaissance crap. Renaissance my ass! They’ve been at the bottom of the well for centuries. It’s going to take a whole lot more than a monument to lift them out of it. It certainly didn’t take much to talk them into it, though. Look: here’s the brochure for the project.
Intercept from Fall: Scott Powers’ eyes grew wider as he scanned and read aloud the document: “50 metres tall, this bronze monument will stand atop one of the Mamelles hills. Once installed, it will tower some 100 metres above sea level, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean from the tip of the Dakar peninsula. With this massive work, Africa announces her return to the grand stage of the avant-garde. Mother of humankind, of History and Civilisation, she shines anew, illuminating the world with the light of her genius and peace at last restored.”
Scott Powers: And their head guy liked this idea of a family representing the African Renaissance?
Dr. Evil: Well, I showed him something a little different: a bronze stela with the names of all of their tribal leaders engraved in copper. When the family goes up, it’s gonna be, like, surpriiiiiiise!
Scott Powers: A pact with Dr. Evil is damnation itself. I can’t believe they trust you…
Dr. Evil: Why on earth would they have doubts? I mean, they’re African, after all. Their primitive civilisations yield primitive beings with primitive brains. It’s been that way for centuries. Africa! This golden age they keep going on about, everybody knows it’s not coming back, for the simple reason that it never happened! Nico Sarkozy said so himself in that speech of his last year at Cheikh Anta Diop University. All I had to do was convince them that I think it did happen and that it can be revived. Their pathetic ego did the rest. Everybody’s happy, nobody got killed: you should be thrilled!
Scott Powers: You really have it in for this continent…
Dr. Evil: Not at all. I just don’t like poor people. And poor people is all they’ve got around here. These folks are a serious drag.
Scott Powers (pointing at the model): Is it normal that the monument is turning its back on the continent?
Dr. Evil: Of course it is! The whole point of this is to flatter these idiots’ egos while simultaneously humiliating them. It’s so much more fun that way. A monument to the renaissance of a continent that turns its back on that very same continent: it’s a damn stroke of genius! I’m the best!
Scott Powers: They’re going to be the laughing stock of the world.
Dr. Evil: They already are. Have been for the longest time! This monument is going to put them solidly in their place. The Black Continent will be once and for all where it belongs: in eternal darkness. I mean… These idiots actually think this thing is going to ring in an age of peace and prosperity: that hotels will have to be built to house the hordes and doodads will have to be produced – cute exotic crap for the tourists to bring home; that all of this is going to create jobs, occupy young people, who’ll quit torching cars and smoking joints in the process; that there’ll be no more money problems; no more drugs or social unrest; that everybody’ll be employed and happy. Respect anew! It’s gotta be the dumbest story I’ve ever heard!
Scott Powers: Young people… But this little kid in the monument – it looks like his father is handing him over to the West. The future of the continent is pointing toward America!
Dr. Evil: Yup, he’s saying hi to his brothers in the diaspora.
Scott Powers: Saying hi? That’s not what it looks like to me. Looks like this family’s trying to get the hell out of Africa, making a run for the West, hope, the future, all of that.
Dr. Evil: They aren’t going anywhere. They’re stuck in the mud of their poverty. Might as well be wearing cement shoes. As for hope – well, that’s what keeps ’em coming back for more. Hope, my dear Scotty, is the pittance of the poor and the hungry too weak to develop subversive ideas and foment revolution. While they sit around being hopeful, they leave the big decisions to others. People like me, the Master of the Universe, whose brilliant idea this is.
Scott Powers: Brilliant idea!?! Their people will never buy this piece of crap!
Dr. Evil: They won’t have a choice! Their chief has a non-stop hard-on for the thing since he discovered it’ll be the tallest monument in all of Africa. I thought his head was going to explode when I told him he and his statue would enter the Guinness Book of World Records. Immortality, I said! He got so excited he composed an ode to the African Renaissance that generations of pickaninnies will be reciting like a bunch of braying donkeys. And he created a foundation – it bears his name, of course – to care for the monument; that way he can collects royalties – royalties!!! – on the thing, like an artist or an author or an inventor. You gotta give it to the guy: he knows how to keep his eyes on the prize. For the inauguration, he’s planning live online coverage: worldwide access and free publicity!
Scott Powers: No one will be dumb enough to waste time watching a ceremony sanctifying this monstrosity.
Dr. Evil: It is not a monstrosity. It is a diabolical project conceived by an exceptional being: me. And since when are you in any position to make an aesthetic judgement on a monument, Mr. I-belong-to-a-virtual-no-culture-generation?
Scott Powers: I might belong to a virtual no-culture generation, as you say, but even I can tell that this thing bears no relation to local culture. It’s ridiculously naturalistic and these people are masters of abstraction! They transcended the figurative centuries before anybody else and inspired modern Western art!
Dr. Evil: Scotty, you’re talking shit. Transcended the figurative and inspired modern Western art!?! If they’d invented anything relevant, people’d know about it. You forget Sarko’s words: “The tragedy of Africa is that the African has not fully entered into history.” What have you been smoking? You’re not making any sense.
Intercept from Fall: Down below, on the hill, armies of little sunflower-skinned workers goose-stepped around cranes dropping off and methodically stacking huge slabs of bronze. The monument was taking shape.
Scott Powers: What’s that thing riding up the bronze lady’s ass?
Dr. Evil: A loin cloth. It’s blowing in the wind.
Scott Powers: You are aware that they have a flourishing fashion industry? They do wear real clothes, you know…
Dr. Evil: Yeah: little loincloths. They’re still in the stone-age. The rest of the world tells them otherwise out of kindness, but that’s the truth.
Scott Powers: And her hair? That’s floating in the wind too? Nice and straight? The Angela Davis look might have been more appropriate.
Dr. Evil: Angela Davis? The human rights activist? Have you lost your mind? A feminist wacko as a symbol? Why in God’s name would I do that?
Scott Powers: Well, how exactly do you think the local feminists are going to take this thing? The woman character is two steps behind her man.
Dr. Evil: But that’s the way it is in primitive societies! Men make the moves, women follow. What? You’ve never seen a Tarzan movie?
Scott Powers: Tarzan! It’s more like Soviet country. A dark era, with an iron curtain backdrop…
Dr. Evil: A dark era? Surely you jest! Soviet era monuments knew how to impress and keep the masses quiet. Absolute symbols of absolute power!
Scott Powers: True enough. By referencing Soviet social realism, this horror you’ve hatched references absolute power: governments that thrive on killing freedom. I thought the third millennium had brought democracy to Africa?
Dr. Evil: Not at all. That’s the story everybody’s selling, but it’s a joke. Easier that way: if you deny there’s a problem, you don’t have to look for a solution. No problem? What bullshit! It was about time someone called a spade a spade. And that’s exactly what I’ve done: given them a symbol of the African Renaissance that’s just what they deserve. A family with over-exaggerated Negroid features (everybody knows this continent is wall-to-wall niggers), clothed like a bunch of savages, turning their backs on their own people, stuck like glue to this broken land of theirs, their arms reaching out for a future they will never attain, bearing a child pointing with envy toward civilised shores he will never reach. That, my dear, is exactly what Africa deserves. Oh, stop looking like somebody died! Have a sense of humour at least! The French have their Eiffel Tower; why shouldn’t these people have their African Renaissance?
Scott Powers: You have no shame! Comparing this hideous mess of pro-dictatorship aesthetics to the Eiffel Tower?
Dr. Evil: Oh, because you think they’re a bunch of angels over here? The pain their leaders inflict on their own people could fill an Atlantic Ocean of tears!
Scott Powers: They’re going to be furious when they find out they’ve been tricked. Mind, they can always have Christo wrap it while they figure out how to fix the problem.
Dr. Evil: They will do no such thing. This monument is un-removable and it has an estimated life-span of 1,200 years minimum. That’s a guarantee from the North Koreans.
Intercept from Fall: Down below, the count-down on the giant chronometer read 0.00:00. Operation African Renaissance had come in smack on schedule.
AFRICAN MONUMENTS TO THE NORTH KOREAN RENAISSANCE
Mansudae Art Institute is a North Korean organisation primarily dedicated to the idolisation of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il through public works, one whose construction of edifices such as the Juche Tower and Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang has added to the status of the country.
Mansudae has also been building revolutionary monuments in African countries such as Ethiopia since the 1970s, in order to maintain cordial relations with socialist states, but in the early 2000s started doing work in African countries to earn foreign currency as well.
Daily NY in China revels that “Since 2000, North Korea has been earning colossal quantities of dollars through contracts for the Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies under the Mansudae Art Institute to construct sculptures.”
Here’s a list of selected projects by Mansudae Art Institute across Africa:
Presidential Palace – US$49million – completed 2008
Cemetery of Namibian Heroes – $5.23million – completed 2002
Military Museum – $1.8million – completed 2004
Independence Hall – $10million – to be completed 2010
Presidential Villa – $0.8million – to be completed 2010
Governmental Office Building – $1.5million – to be completed 2010
Luba Football Stadium – $6.74million – to be completed 2010
Luba Governmental Conference Hall – $3.5million – to be completed 2010
Peace Monument – $1.5million – to be completed 2009
Antonio Agostinho Neto Cultural Centre – $40million – to be completed 2009
Cabinda Park – $13million – completed 2008
Monument to the Three Dikgosi – $1.1million – completed 2008
Basketball Stadium – $14.4million
Athlete Academic Centre – $4.8million
Eight Monuments (including Laurent Kabila) – $2.3million
Monument to the African Renaissance – $12million – to be completed 2010